The 49ers' best player is The Next Man Up.
Almost every time someone on the 49ers gets injured, it seems The Next Man Up is even better than the starter.
This past Sunday, The Next Man Up was Kevin Givens, who replaced nose tackle D.J. Jones in the starting lineup. Jones is an excellent nose tackle, and his absence could have hurt the 49ers ability to stop the Rams rushing attack if Givens were a stiff.
But Givens is not a stiff. Givens is at least as good as Jones, maybe better.
And against the Rams, Givens made an impact on the 49ers' first defensive play, when he knifed into the backfield and blew up the Rams run. A couple plays later, he knifed into the backfield again and tackled the Rams running back for a three-yard loss.
Later during that opening drive, Givens recovered a fumble.
What a start for him.
But he wasn't done. During the third quarter, Givens hit Rams quarterback Jared Goff and forced an errant throw which rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw picked off and returned for a touchdown. Givens made that play happen.
Givens, 23, was an undrafted free agent in 2019. He's built like Aaron Donald -- both are 6'1, 285 pounds. Of course, Givens is no Donald -- Donald is the best player in the league. But Givens is good, too.
So good, he probably has made D.J. Jones expendable. Jones will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and the 49ers may not have the cap space to re-sign him.
Now, they don't need to re-sign Jones, because they have The Next Man Up.
Watch a film breakdown of Givens' performance against the Rams.